A Model of Peace – Sri Lanka

In a civil war that murdered 80,000 people, Sri Lankans are seeing peace in their lifetime. It’s quite a model for the rest of the world.

While the U.S. has faced a civil war in our own past, it is a distant history and was over relatively soon; Sri Lankans’ internal war lasted 26 years. For some people, that is a lifetime. It’s all they knew.

The war consisted of brutal clashes between the native Sinhalese and the Tamils who are a Hindu minority group. Most of Sri Lanka is comprised of Buddhists. Knowing that both Hindu and Buddhists foster and believe in peace, it is strange to see that this even occurred.

The current leader of Sri Lanka holds the key. It’s to be open to all (peaceable) viewpoints:

“We should allow our religious leaders to guide us….” – Maithripala Sirisena, Current Leader of Sri Lanka

He is a Buddhist — but professes to learn and listen from all religions. What a wonderful view to be compassionate to all beliefs even when we cherish our own views.

This might seem strange to us — since we are governed by separation of church and state. And here is Sri Lanka, a country being guided by spirituality.

Yet, our own country was guided by this as well. If you review most of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, he talks about how the presence of God or Providence is guiding us and how our Constitution would not have been able to be formed without this leadership. There were so many arguments, near catastrophes, and an almost crumbling of our Constitution. What seems normal today was unsure then.

Abraham Lincoln also goes on to invoke God in our civil war as well as our international dealings, stating that ‘every soldier’s adherence, every citizen’s adherence, to the greater values of God, truth and love, would be the only way the United States could last’. It is extremeley important that we respect religion and respect the freedom of worship. It is equally important that we realize how much worship can guide us in our individual lives and our country’s future.

And this is what Sri Lanka is doing; they are embracing the different religions. They are also emphasizing the importance of having a spiritual belief. Then, they are taking practical footsteps such as rule of law replacing military fiefdoms. They are setting up peace and reconciliation conferences where all view points are heard. They are releasing innocent political prisoners, and returning land which was unjustly taken from the common people.

Sri Lanka provides an opportunity for all of us to model; act justly and act with God’s guidance. We can enjoy life and trust our future to this. Thank you Sri Lanka for your wonderful model.

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History of Sri Lanka and the Civil War

Sri Lanka is an island off the southeast tip of India that has survived 26 years of being divided during a long civil war. The war began between the two main ethnicities on the island, the Sinhalese and the Tamil. Throughout the history of Sri Lanka the Sinhalese were the majority which gave them political and economic power resulting in the marginalization of the Tamil. This marginalization resulted in a Tamil rebel group being formed called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). LTTE argued that they had been victims of discrimination under a Buddhist Sinhalese government and fought for decades to resolve the issues.

In 2009, the Civil War finally came to a close under the rule of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, new President, Maithripala Sirisena, a former health minister, was elected in the most recent elections in January 2015. President Sirisena was elected through the Sinhala-majority rural constituency and the Tamil and Muslim minority groups. With these groups coming together, this has proven to be a time when all groups are able to coincide and become a new Sri Lanka under the new President.

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